Hindu Meditation :Self-Enquiry and Yoga Meditation
History & Significance
There isn`t a single meditation type called “Yogic Meditation”. Yoga means “union”. Tradition goes as far as 1700 B.C., having as goal spiritual purification and Self-Knowledge. Classical Yoga divides the practice into rules of conduct (yamas and niyamas), physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and contemplative practices of meditation (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi).
The Yoga tradition is the oldest meditation tradition on earth and also the one with the widest variety of practices.
How do I practice?
Here are some types of meditation practiced in Yoga. The most popular Yoga meditation is the “third eye meditation”. Other popular ones involve concentrating on a chakra, repeating a mantra, visualization of light, or gazing meditations.
Third Eye Meditation
– focusing the attention on the “spot between the eyebrows”, called also “the third eye” or “ajna chakra”. The attention is constantly directed to this spot, as a means to silence the mind. The silent periods between thoughts become wider through practice. You can also try to “look” at this spot, with your physical eyes closed.
– the practitioner focuses on one of the sever chakras (energy centers) of the body. Visualization is characteristic for Chakra meditation. There is also a specific mantra for each chakra (lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om). Most commonly it is done on the heart chakra, third eye and crown chakra, but it can be practiced for the rest of the chakras, too, if needed.
Gazing Meditation (Trataka)
– fixing the gaze on an external object, typically a candle, image or a symbol (yantras). It is done with eyes open, and then with eyes closed to train both concentration and visualization powers of the mind. After closing the eyes, you should still keep the image of the object in your “mind`s eye”. This meditation is very important and powerful, as the skills developed by practicing it are essential for our well-being.
Kundalini Meditation –
this is a very complex system of practice. The goal is the awakening of the “kundalini energy” which lies dormant on the base of the spine. Then, the development of several psychic centers in the body, and then enlightenment. There are several dangers associated with this practice, and it should not be attempted without the guidance of a qualified yogi.
Kriya Yoga –
is a set of exercises that raise your energy level. The practice also implies breathing and meditation exercises taught by Paramahamsa Yogananda. This is more suitable for those who are seeking the spiritual aspects of meditation. To learn it, you can apply to receive the Self-Realization lessons, free of charge.
Sound Meditation (Nada Yoga)
– focusing on sounds. This practice starts with meditation on external sounds, such as calming ambient music (Native American music for instance). The student focuses all his attention on just hearing, as a help to quiet the mind. By time, the practice evolves to hearing the “internal sounds” of the body and mind. The ultimate goal is to hear the “Ultimate Sound” (para nada), which is a sound without vibration, that manifests as the mantra “OM”.
unlike the popular view in the West, most Tantra practices have nothing to do with ritualized sex, this being practiced by a minority of lineages. Tantra is a very rich tradition, with dozens of different contemplative practices. The 108 meditations listed in the text Vijnanabhairava Tantra are more advanced, requiring a certain degree of stillness and mind control.
Some examples of the listed meditation are:
Merge the mind and the senses in the interior space in the spiritual heart.
When you perceive an object, all other objects become empty. Concentrate on that emptiness.
Fix the attention on the inside of the skull. Close eyes.
Meditate on the occasion of any great delight.
Meditate on the feeling of pain.
Dwell on the reality which exists between pain and pleasure.
Meditate on the void in your body, extending in all directions simultaneously.
Concentrate on a bottomless well or as standing in a very high place.
Listen to the Anahata (heart chakra) sound.
Listen to the sound of a musical instrument as it dies away.
Contemplate on the universe or to your body as being filled with bliss.
Concentrate intense on the idea that the universe is completely void.
Contemplate that the same consciousness exists in all bodies.
is about breathing regulation. It is not exactly a meditation, but an excellent practice to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation. There are several different types of Pranayama, but the simplest and most popular of all is the 4-4-4-4. This means breathing in while counting to 4, holding for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds and holding empty for 4 seconds. Breath using your nose. Let the abdomen, not your chest, be the one that moves. Repeat a few cycles. This alternation and regulation of breath balances the moods and pacifies the body. The good part is that it can be done anywhere.
Yoga is a very rich tradition, with different lineages, implying the existence of a big number of techniques. Above you can find a summary of the most well-known of them. The others are more specific or complex.
Watch this video if you want to see how to do Yoga style meditation. It also combines breathing, body awareness, mantra and chakra meditation.
Learn more :
Do I need this meditation?
Taking into consideration the variety of Yoga meditation types, it is almost impossible not to like at least one of the practices. If you like the sounds, then nada yoga is something that you might like. Do not forget that Kundalini and Chakra meditation should only be attempted with a teacher.
Probably, the simplest one to try is the “third eye meditation” which is simple and shows quick results. For the other types, you should probably read more information from the recommended sites, either you should practice with a teacher. Besides, Pranayama is something anyone can benefit from.
Self-Enquiry and “I Am” Meditation
History & Significance
The Sanskrit term for “Self-enquiry” is atma vichara. It means to “question and observe” our true nature. To search for the answer to the question “Who am I?”, which culminates with the intimate knowledge of our true Self, our true nature. First references to this meditation are in very old Indian texts. It popularity increased in the 20th century, thanks to the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950).
This technique is strongly used by the modern non-duality movement (neo-advaita), along with the teachings of Nisargadatta Magaraj (1897-1981) and Papaji. Mooji, Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle are just some of the contemporary teachers that use this meditation type.
How do I practice?
The practice is very subtle and simple. However, expanding the practice may sound very abstract.
Your sense of “I”, or your “Ego” is the center of your universe. In some form or another, you can observe your Ego, behind all your thoughts, memories, emotions and perceptions. We are not clear yet about who we really are, in essence, and confuse our true identity with our body, our mind, our roles or labels. I guess this is the biggest mystery in our lives.
With self-enquiry meditation, the question “Who am I?” comes within yourself. A lot of verbal answers may come as answers in your mind. You need to reject these answers and use the question simply as a tool to fix your attention in the subjective feeling of “I am”. Become one with it, go deep into it. This will finally reveal your true “I-essence”, your real self as pure consciousness, beyond all limitations. This is a question to bring the attention to the core element of your perception and experience: the “I”. This is not your personality, but a pure and subjective feeling of existence, without any concepts attached to it.
“To whom does this arise?”
Whenever a feeling or a thought arises, just ask yourself “To whom does this arise?” or “Who is aware of this feeling?”. If the answer is “Me”, just ask yourself “Who am I?”. This will bring the attention back to the subjective feeling of self, of presence. It is pure existence, objectless and choice-less awareness.
Another way of practicing this type of meditation is to just focus the mind on your feeling of being, on your non-verbal “I am” that shines inside of you. So, keep it pure, without association with anything you perceive.
With all other types of meditation, the “I” is focusing the attention on some object, internal or external, physical or mental. In self-enquiry meditation, the “I” is focusing on itself, the subject. Therefore, the attention turns towards its source.
There is no special position to practice, although the general suggestions about posture and environment are helpful for beginners.
Guided “I am” Meditations with Mooji
Nisargadatta Maharaj: Enlightened-Spirituality
Quotes apps (iOS)
Do I need this meditation?
To conclude, if you are seeking for inner freedom and peace, you found the right meditation for you. Yet, if you don`t have previous experience with meditation, you may find it hard to follow through. As an initial aid to give you a feeling for it, I recommend to follow some guided meditations from Mooji, on Youtube.